The number of children needing foster care has risen by 44% during the coronavirus pandemic, according to children’s charity Barnardo’s.
What’s more, the number of people looking to become foster parents fell by nearly half compared to the same period last year, causing the UK’s leading children’s charity to declare a ‘state of emergency’.
Between 1st March and 23rd April 2020, Barnardo’s counted 2,349 referrals to its fostering services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, compared to 1,629 for the same period last year. At the same time, the number of enquiries from those interested in becoming foster parents for the charity dropped by 47%, from 302 to 161.
Barnardo’s says that without more people coming forward who want to foster children, hundreds of children – some of whom may have experienced abuse and neglect – are waiting for places with foster families.
Barnardo’s believes increased pressure on vulnerable families caused by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, with deepening poverty, job losses and worsening mental health, has led to family breakdown. Children have also been in lockdown in homes where domestic abuse and sexual abuse are taking place. Barnardo’s believes that these pressures are likely to affect additional families as the pandemic continues.
The charity blames the uncertainty caused by the pandemic for the reduction in enquiries it has received from those wanting to foster children.
Barnardo’s is asking anyone over 21 years old who has a spare room and the time and commitment to support a child, to get in touch with them and think about fostering a child.
Meanwhile, ITV reported that during the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a 50% rise in children referred to care, due to “a rise in abuse and neglect”.
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